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Tuesday, 11 April 1961

Mr Whitlam m asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -

What are the (a) dates, and (b) texts of ministerial directions issued under section 20 of the War Service Homes Act?

Mr Roberton - The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answer to the honorable member's question: -

The texts of ministerial directions relating to section 20 (1.) of the War Service Homes Act which are still in force and the dates on which they were given are as follows: -

1.   An advance is not to be made to discharge an existing mortgage-, charge or encumbrance unless that mortgage or charge has been arranged with the prior approval of the War Service Homes Division. Exceptions to this instruction have been approved in circumstances such as the following: -

(a)   Where a widow to whom a home has been transferred on the death of her husband is unable, from her reduced income, to meet the obligations under a mortgage entered into by her husband' before his death, and

(b)   Where an applicant, after entering into a private mortgage, suffers a considersiderable: permanent reduction in his income due to illness: or some other cause beyond his control and cannot meet the obligations under that mortgage.

When the War Service Homes Act was amended in 1951 the- opportunity was taken to clarify, amongst other things, the legal position regarding ministerial policy directions relating to the making of advances under section 20 (1.) of. the act. On 29th November, 1951, the. then Minister directed that, as from the date that the amending act came into operation, the policy set out above, regarding the discharge of an existing mortgage, charge or encumbrance, should be adopted. Subsequent Ministers have- each affirmed this policy.

2.   Assistance is not to be given to members of the Citizen Military Forces or to members of the Women's Services unless they actually served outside Australia. This direction was given by the then Minister administering the War Service Homes Act, on 17th December, 1948. The policy implemented under the direction has been affirmed by each successive Minister since that time.

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) r asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -

1.   Are applications involving most exceptional circumstances sometimes received for a second War Service Homes loan, or for the transfer of an existing loan from one house to a house in another district? 2'. Have the rules governing these applications been so tightened in the last three or four years that now second loans are granted only to totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen and people in like case?

3.   Is one reason for this the provision in the act which requires that when a property is sold the department has to pay the proceeds into the National Debt Sinking Fund and so that amount is lost to it for ever, thus meaning that if the department financed an ex-serviceman in the purchase ofa second house it would have to use part of its current grant to do so at the expense of refusing a loan to some other serviceman who has not had a loan at all?

4.   Will consideration be given to amending the act so that where a serviceman is required by exceptional circumstances to transfer his residence from one district to another the department will be enabled to apply the proceeds of the sale of the first house towards a loan to the serviceman towards the cost of the second house, thus involving no additional or new expenditure by the War Service Homes Division?

Mr Roberton - The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answers to the honorable member's questions: -

1.   Requests are received from ex-servicemen who have been provided with a war service home for a second loan under the act, in respect of another property.

2.   The act prohibits, except with the approval of the Minister, the granting of assistance to any one eligible person in respect of more than one property. In conformity with the intention of the act, which is to provide an eligible person with one home only, it has never been the practice to consider applications for the transfer of an existing loan to another home and applications for second loans have been considered only in exceptional circumstances. This policy was reviewed and affirmed by the Government in 1956 when it was decided that the granting of second loans would be limited to cases of grave emergency.

3.   As stated in 2 above the policy is based on the intention of the act which was to assist an applicant in respect of only one home. It was never the intention to provide an ex-serviceman with a. fund which he could use to finance the acquisition of more than one home.

4.   Having regard to the provisions and intention of the act and to the policy followed by all governments since the inception of the war service homes scheme it is not considered that it would be desirable to amend the act on the lines suggested.

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